By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
— RIVERSIDE – A new 2.2 mile walking path will take visitors on a scenic trail around the perimeter of Sunbury Road’s Danville Airport.
“For years, we had people walking around the perimeter of the airport for exercise,” said Craig Lawler, of the Danville Airport Authority. The trail will be an improvement on that as it gives people a defined path they can travel, to ensure they are not in the way of the airport track.
“We started with the idea about a month ago,” Lawler said. All the work to create the trail was done by about half a dozen airport authority personnel working off and on over that month.
After the authority first showed interest in a walking path, they received a recommendation from a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources employee that it would be easier for their purposes to get a brush mower and clear a path themselves than it would to go through a state grant and survey process.
“We may still do that in the future depending on how the trail is used,” Lawler said.
Lawler has ideas to refine the path, if there is enough community interest. One involves installing some steps going up a bank near the back of the path.
The authority was also talking with members of the Whitenight family, who own the adjacent field to the airport and walking path, about making part of the trail loop through their property.
A sign for the walking path, named “The Loop,” was handmade by Lawler’s wife, Lorraine. The trail is open during daylight hours only. Arrow signs will also guide walkers around the path and away from the runway.
The authority is always looking for ways to grow the airport, which frequently brings in high-ranked business people from out of state and out of country, Lawler said.
Maintenance for the path shouldn’t be too difficult, he said, as the area is mowed regularly. A few areas with small holes need to be touched up, but that should be fixed soon, Lawler said.
As the path is made of grass and hilly in places, it isn’t suitable for bike-riding, except perhaps mountain bikes, Lawler said. Walkers are allowed to bring dogs along, so long as they don’t go near any planes.
Walking trails such as these are one of the most in demand recreational facilities in the state, said Lawler.
The Danville Airport and authority are doing as much as they can to have a positive impact on the community, and offering this walking trail is an extension of other efforts such as the airport’s flea markets and car shows, Lawler said.
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